Boston. The many aspects of the critical interactions between convention centres and their respective communities was explored in depth and with the benefit of global city expertise at the recent AIPC Annual Conference in Boston USA.
The overall conclusion: that centre managers can and need to play a much more powerful role in the priorities and affairs of their cities in areas ranging from urban planning to branding and even economic policy setting.
“Centres play a huge and very visible role in both the functioning and profiling of their cities as well as in the broader issues of addressing both community and local government policy objectives” said AIPC President Geoff Donaghy. “However, they are not always as engaged as they might be in the larger policy and decision processes that must respond to the changes taking place in most destinations today. What we learned at this conference is that we can and should be much more engaged in these processes, and that in doing so we will not only be doing a better job of serving our respective communities but at the same time enhancing our own future business prospects as well”.
Renowned city expert Greg Clark, destination branding specialist Chris Fair and urbanization academic Johannes Novy all addressed the various aspects of city development that are increasingly demanding a coordinated response from city administrations around the world. Included in these issues were areas such as the demands of economic evolution, the growing backlash against uncontrolled tourism and the need for a more integrated approach to developing and maintaining destination branding.
At a more practical level, delegates also addressed the evolving challenges of centre safety and security in a more complex world; the priority issues of key partners such as the association, accommodation and exhibition communities and the available ways of responding to new technology demands in a cost-effective way.
Another highlight of the conference program was the awarding of the 2015 AIPC Innovation Awards, a bi-annual program that features a wide range of management, marketing, systems and technology concepts shared amongst members in an intense competition for centre recognition. This year’s Overall Winner was the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre for their highly innovative new system of bundling short-term product offerings based on pre-set components, with the Delegate’s Choice Award going to the Halifax Convention Centre for their launch campaign for a new facility now nearing completion.
Finally the conference included a General Assembly that charted the way for key administration decisions that will guide the association in the next few years. Included was the election of a number of Board and Executive Board members, including incumbent President Geoff Donaghy, to a second term as well as decisions on the location of future conferences which now includes Nantes France for 2016 and Sydney Australia for 2017.